By ELLALYN B. DE VERA * AP
Manila, Philippines – A strong earthquake measuring 6.9-magnitude on the Richter scale jolted Negros Oriental shortly before noon yesterday that was felt in some parts of the country, killing a child and triggering the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) to raise a tsunami alert.
The earthquake was recorded at 11:49 a.m. Monday that originated five kilometers northwest of Tayasan, Negros Oriental.
The United States Geological Survey said the quake was centered 72 kilometers north of Dumaguete City on Negros and hit at a depth of 46 kms.
Phivolcs Seismology Division officer-in-charge Ishmael Narag explained that they are looking into thrust mechanism or pushing of earthquake faults between the Negros and Cebu Trenches that most likely caused the earthquake in Negros Oriental.
Intensity 7 was felt in Dumaguete City; Intensity 6 in La Carlota City and La Castellana in Negros Occidental; Intensity 5 in Roxas City, Dao and Ibisan in Capiz, and Iloilo City; Intensity 4 in San Jose de Buenavista and Pandan in Antique, Ayungon in Negros Oriental, Kalibo in Aklan, Sagay in Negros Occidental, and Dipolog City; Intensity 3 in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Legazpi City in Albay, Carmen in Cagayan de Oro City; and Intensity 2 in Cabid-an in Sorsogon.
People rushed out of schools, malls and offices during the quake. Officials in some areas suspended work and canceled classes.
A child died when a concrete fence of a house collapsed in Taysan, Negros Oriental, said Benito Ramos, who heads the Office of Civil Defense.
A mall in San Carlos city in neighboring Negros Occidental province was damaged when its windows were shattered by the shaking, he said. The quake was also felt in Cebu, where it lasted about 30 seconds.
Phivolcs science research assistant Margarita Dizon said Tsunami Alert Level 2 was raised to advise the public to be on alert for unusual waves.
“The tsunami warning was raised to inform residents in coastal areas, particularly in the eastern portion of eastern Negros Oriental and the western portion of Cebu province,” she said.
“People are advised to stay away from the shoreline. People should not go to the coast to watch the tsunami. People whose houses are very near coastal areas in Negros and Cebu islands are strongly advised to be watchful,” she added.
Phivolcs warned the public of possible aftershocks due to the earthquake.
The Philippines is located in the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common. A 7.7-magnitude quake killed nearly 2,000 people in Luzon in 1990.
Following the tsunami warning, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) issued a warning and notice to all maritime vessels passing through affected area nearby provinces, to take maximum precautionary measures and to take shelter as necessary following the strong earthquake.
“All units in the coastal areas fronting Sulu Sea have been directed not to allow ships and other sea crafts to sail or to venture out to sea but to take shelter until the alert level is finally lifted”, Vice Admiral Edmund Tan, Philippine Coast Guard commandant, said.
He also advised all Coast Guard units in those said affected areas to continue to monitor further information on the alert level.
Tan added that all units were likewise directed to coordinate with the local government units and local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils (DRRMC), and initiate the recall of motor boats and other sea crafts in the affected areas.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Commander Algier Ricafrente, PCG Public Affairs chief, said that all PCG search-and-rescue units were placed on full alert for possible massive force evacuation. (John Carlo Cahinhinan)